Cross wants to give elephant back to owners

Lawrence County Commissioner Bradley Cross told fellow commissioners Friday morning he favors giving the elephant back to her owner “and let them get the hell out of Dodge.”

On Jan. 22, District Judge Angela Terry gave custody of Nosey, a 35-year-old African circus elephant, to the county’s animal control officer, Kimberly Carpenter. On Nov. 9, the county seized the elephant and four ponies from Hugo and Franciszka Liebel, of Davenport, Florida, citing signs of stress and abuse.

“She doesn’t know any more about an elephant’s health than I know about a jet plane,” Cross said about Carpenter. “… I’ve been around long enough to know they’re passing the buck. They’re putting it back on the County Commission. If they sue, there’s not a jury in this county who will charge the Liebels with animal cruelty.

“They’ve owned this elephant 32 years, making a living with it and have been all over the United States. … So what we need to do is give the elephant back to the Liebels and tell them to get the hell out of Dodge. That will save us a lot of money.”

District 4 Commissioner Bobby Burch said giving the elephant back could lead to contempt charges for disobeying the court order.

County Attorney Dave Martin said the order is under appeal and “the order of the judge is not final.” He said with the appeal being filed, it is best not to comment.

On Feb. 2, the Liebels through their attorneys Allen Stoner and Whitney Fisher, filed an appeal in Lawrence County Circuit Court and requested a jury trial.

Animal rights groups have accused the Liebels of abusing Nosey for the past couple of decades. On Dec. 16, a day after a 10½-hour hearing, the Liebels were booked on animal cruelty charges regarding Nosey. At the same time, the county returned the four ponies to the circus owners.

Nosey is housed at the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, 80 miles southwest of Nashville.

In other business, the commission:

• Agreed to pay Changing 42 Rescue money billed from fiscal 2017 and has asked that future bills be accompanied by invoices and documentation.

• Agreed to a five-year franchise agreement with Charter Communications. Company spokesman Taylor Vice said its goal was to get countywide service. “It’s costly to get those rural areas,” he said.

• Approved the advertisement of a bid for an Appalachian Regional Commission Grant for County Road 23 work.

• Approved culvert work for county roads 165 and 377 totaling $630,000, from ATRIP project money. County engineer Winston Sitton said no matching funds are required on the county’s part.

• Approved the county engineer to hire laborers through temporary employment service Southern Staffing.


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